Carfentanil, also known as carfentanyl, is a powerful drug used to tranquilize large animals like elephants. It is now being mixed with marijuana and cocaine and sold to unsuspected drug users.
The combination is being blamed for a series of overdoses in the Midwest. According to experts, carfentanil is an “analog of the synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl” that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. This makes it the strongest of opioids.
Carfentanil, which has been around since the 1970s, is mainly used to anesthetize big mammals or in mass killings. In 2002, Chechen terrorists murdered 100 people with the drug in a theater in Moscow, Russia.
Carfentanil causes itching, nausea, respiratory depression, and is responsible for the death of hundreds of people in Europe. Sadly, it made a major comeback in America in the past few years.
Drug traffickers have been pushing heroin laced with carfentanil and fentanyl and carfentanil pills in American streets, and many people are buying them because they are not aware of the deadly consequences. Tom Synan, who directs the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force in Southwest Ohio, said:
“Instead of having four or five overdoses in a day, you’re having these 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 overdoses in a day.”
Synan, who is also the police chief in Newtown, Ohio, said the killer cocktail started popping in his state in July. The number of overdoses was shocking and overwhelming to first responders. He shared:
“Their efforts are truly heroic, to be going from call to call to call. One district alone had seen 14 in one shift, so they were nonstop.”
First responders and emergency room workers have been asked to wear protective gloves and masks because carfentanil can harm the person, who touches or inhales it.
In Ohio, Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram says it can take hours for the body to metabolize carfentanil, far longer than for other opiods. That means a longer-lasting high.
However, it also means that when someone overdoses, it is harder to revive them — and save their life — with naloxone, the emergency medication used to block the effects of opioids. Ingram added:
“We’ve been getting lots of reports that they’re using two or three doses to get people to come back.”
Friday night, Hamilton County narcotics officers arrested Kendall Cunningham, 27, and 21-year-old Malik Bowman as they were driving. Officers smelled marijuana during a traffic stop, and the search led to the discovery of marijuana, cocaine, and carfentanil.
According to DEA spokesman Russ Baer, the illicit carfentanil is brought in by Mexican drug traffickers and criminals, who get it on the Internet. Dealers are making huge profits because it takes a tiny amount to induce a high. Baer said:
“You can go on the Internet and anybody can establish an anonymous account, and you can order carfentanil directly from China.”
Ingram expects the matter to get worse because dealers will no longer go to the trouble of growing poppies to make heroin when carfentanyl, which is cheaper and much more powerful, can be made in a lab. He explained:
“We may be seeing more and more synthetic opioids from this point forward ,and we’re going to have to prepare for it.”
Some experts believe that without concrete reforms, drug traffickers will remain ahead of law enforcement.